6 things the hiring manager looks for in a CV

Knowing what the hiring manager might look for when reading your CV would be a huge benefit as you can better understand how to shape your CV. This guide will look to help you customise your CV in ways you never thought possible, but don’t forget to also use the good old method of using the job advert!

Today’s job market is the most competitive it has ever been now that there is an abundance of free information online, and if you want to get even further ahead of the competition then getting right to the heart of what matters to the employer provides you a clear advantage.

Here are 6 things the hiring manager looks for in a CV.

Your most recent job 

Your current or previous position is going to be of interest to the hiring manager as they want to get an understanding of why you want to move on from that position, or why you may have left it. If there is a gap in your employment they may be wondering whether or not you were fired, so be prepared to answer any kind of question relating to your reasons for leaving in the interview.

You are not legally obligated to tell the hiring manager that you were fired on your CV or in an interview, so rather than go down that awkward conversation if you were let go, it’s usually much better to focus towards discussing why that job wasn’t right for you and what you are looking for next.

The interviewer will embrace your passion for what attracted you to their company and the position available, so steer the conversation towards that and don’t go into any detail about being let go from your previous job if this was the case.

The hiring manager will also be looking at your most recent role to see how long you have or had worked there. The shorter the length of service the more suspicion this attracts, however there could of course be a completely normal reason as to why you haven’t or hadn’t worked there for very long and are now looking for a new career.

Again, consider how you are going to approach this in an interview and also check how your work history stacks up on your CV. Obviously you can’t edit and fabricate information for how long you worked for a company, but you can however ensure you focus on the most relevant roles so the hiring manager’s attention is drawn to the right areas.

Career progression 

An important aspect of your CV is how it represents your career progression, and how it positively reflects your current situation and goals. The experience you’ve gained, along with skills and qualifications, should stand out where relevant to the new role you’re applying for.

The hiring manager always likes to see someone who has clearly progressed over the years to an expected level for the position on offer. Do your previous roles clearly show that you are up to the task and have what it takes to be an employer of their company?

The key to success here is to ensure the hiring manager clearly sees that you are the right person for the job. A great way to do this is to focus only on the relevant sections of each role and highlight the skills you’ve learned over the years.

Matching keywords 

There are lots of great ways to insert keywords into your CV, and the best place to find them is usually the job advert itself.

The hiring manager may be consciously and subconsciously looking for matching keywords within your CV. If you have sent your CV via e-mail then it’s possible they may be using a search tool within the word processing software to find exactly what they are looking for – especially if they have so many to read!

Typically the hiring manager is the one who posted the job advert, so if you are able to grab their attention using keywords then you are already on their radar. If the advert stated certain skills and qualifications, then consider using the exact same words as there is no need to make the hiring manager’s life difficult.

You want to be on the same page as the hiring manager, and what better way than to use the same language. This is also important when it comes to technical or industry jargon, as this is a great way to show that you are knowledgeable in this area.

Useful resourceHow to choose the right keywords for your CV

Gaps in employment 

If you haven’t been out of work for a long period, all you need to ensure here is that your CV’s work time-line is accurate. A mistake could not only confuse the hiring manager, but could also put them off asking you for an interview altogether. Typically you only need to put the month and year for your start and end date, so make sure they connect nicely.

If however you have had a lengthy spell out of work, no matter what the reason you should be honest on your CV. For health reasons you don’t have to be specific, but you should however note this down on your CV. The hiring manager will often come across employment gaps and the best outcome is always to be honest rather than try and cover it up. If your employment history looks even slightly suspicious, the hiring manager has plenty of other CVs to read and will move onto the next.

Find out more about handling gaps in employment in this video:

Social media presence 

According to employers who use social networking sites to research potential job candidates, what they’re looking for when researching candidates is:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 58 percent
  • If the candidate has a professional online persona: 50 percent
  • What other people are posting about the candidate: 34 percent
  • A reason not to hire the candidate: 22 percent

SOURCE: Career Builder Survey

A hiring manager will often search for you online to get an idea of the type of person you are. If they are able to find you on Facebook and your page is littered with drunken nights out and ‘running on the beach naked’ pictures, it may not be the most professional way to put yourself across. Sure, your Facebook account can be used however you want, but you just need to ensure that if an employer sees it that it won’t offend them.

If you want to keep your Facebook or any other social media account private, then don’t forget to change the privacy settings before you send your CV. However, sometimes you can use social media to work in your favour if you are happy everything on there will strengthen your application.

There are professional social media sites like LinkedIn which are specifically designed for an employer to connect to your details. So make sure everything is up to date and that you provide your account details on your CV, as well as any other media presence you wish to showcase.

A website that you have built or are associated with could be a great way to show the hiring manager your skills. You may also decide to use your hobbies as a way to connect with the hiring manager – this could include playing in a band or a local sports team.

Even though your hobbies have no connection to the job, employer’s like to see some personality shine through on a CV, and what better way than to show them what you’re passionate about. Creative hobbies are a great way to impress the hiring manager!

Presentation, spelling and grammar, layout etc 

One of the most important aspects of a great CV is the ability to nail all the standard parts – layout, presentation, spelling, spacing, font, and so on. Time and time again we come across CVs with spelling mistakes and incorrect layouts that could have easily have been avoided with a proofread and by using a pre-made CV template.

Making silly mistakes could very easily cost you an interview as the hiring manager will see someone who is prone to making simple errors and could very well do that in the job. Getting this part wrong could completely devalue the rest of your application, and no matter how skilled, experienced and qualified for the job you are, you might not get a chance to prove it.

Further reading:

Does your CV make a great first impression? 

The top 9 soft skills to have on your CV

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